Because of today's appearance consciousness, you undoubtedly hold an image of what you are supposed to look like. Yet few people naturally possess their desired physique. Most of us are ordinary mortals, complete with bumps, bulges, fat, and fleshiness. Women, in particular, have a natural roundness and softness that tends to become rounder and softer with aging.
In general, about one-third of all Americans are truly dissatisfied with their appearance, women more than men. A woman will most commonly complain about her thighs, abdomen, breasts, and buttocks. A man expresses dissatisfaction with his abdomen, upper body, and balding scalp. Sometimes the problem is imaginary (such as when the anorexic skater complains about her fat thighs); sometimes it is real and ranges from a mild complaint about love handles that hang over the running shorts to a major preoccupation with flabby thighs that results in relentless dieting and exercise.
Even lean athletes, men and women alike, are not immune from the epidemic of body dissatisfaction, despite their fitness. Many perceive themselves as having unacceptable bodies, and this perception can lead to the development of eating disorders. The best predictor of who will develop an eating disorder relates to who struggles most with body image.
What you look like on the outside should have little to do with how you feel on the inside. But in reality, many people think like this:
This type of thinking is common among young dancers who develop hips and thighs as they blossom from girls into women, runners who feel pressure to be thinner, exercise leaders who think every student scrutinizes their bulges, and numerous other people who think they have imperfect bodies.
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